The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


letrec's picture

"Modern Baking" and Karin's Pain à la Bière (Alsatian Beer Bread)

January 26, 2013 - 8:05pm -- letrec


Hi, this is my first post, though I have been lurking for a few months now.  After learning the basic baguette and experimenting with wild (rye) sourdoughs, I've decided to attempt an artisan rustic bread from Karin's basket. 

My maternal grandmother was proud of her Alsace-Lorraine heritage, and I baked these loaves in her memory. 

I've copy/edited the recipe I adapted from Karin for convenience. 

dabrownman's picture

This bake was similar to the last one with a few additions.  We added some spelt and rye upping the whole grains to 60%.  We upped the water roux another 40% or so because we liked the last bake so much and 40 percent more of fine tasting has to be teeth dropping,.  We added aromatic seeds including coriander, anise, black and brown caraway and fennel.  We also put in some pumpkin and sunflower seeds and some pistachio nuts.


Since this bread got larger and more weighty, we decided to make a boule instead of a loaf and hope to be able to turn it out into a round cake pan before putting it into the hot MagnaWare turkey roaster.


This bread is even wetter than the last one, in the very high 70’s at least and we didn’t want it to spread out too much so, the cake pan would have been useful to hold the boule together and keep the spread to a minimum but it wouldn't fit.


We stuck to the 4 and 40 hour method of the last bake hoping the extra whole grains wouldn’t cause the loaf to ferment too much in the fridge.  After 24 hours it looked fine so we cross our fingers and hope that it will hold up after the last loaf over proofed.


This time we will bake this bread cold out of the fridge hoping to catch it before this one can over proof.  Since we had so much add ins to incorporate, we divided them into 3 separate adds – one for each S&F.  The scald went in first followed by the aromatic seeds and then by the rest of the seeds and pistachios all 15 minutes apart.


Also trying to keep the bread from over proofing, instead of an hour of ferment on the counter after S&F’s and  after shaping we cut these down to 30 minutes each.  And instead of S&F’s this dough was so wet we did French swlap and folds to incorporate the add ins instead.  It is really weird to have an apprentice speaking French with a German accent.

The bread un-molded easily onto parchment that was lowered after a quick T-Rex slash into a cold aluminum DO.  The DO was placed into a cold oven that was set for 450 F.  When the beeper went off (about 20 minutes later), saying the oven was at temperature, we set the timer for 25 minutes of steaming woth the lid on. 

After 25 minutes we took the lid off and turned the oven down to 425 F convection this time.  5 minutes later we took the bread out of the CO and placed it on the stone where it hit 205 F on the inside in 6 minutes.  Total time in the oven cold and hot was right at 56 minutes. 

We let the boule crisp on the stone in an off oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes.  Can’t wait to cut into this bread because the smell off the aromatic seeds is quite nice and near intoxicating.  I was hoping to wait 24 hours to cut this bread open but ……

Sadly, this bread also had little spring and bloom but it didn’t collapse either – just like the last bake.  It may be that the 40 hour retard is too much when using a YW and SD levain in conjunction with a biga and Tang Zhong.  That is the great thing about bread.  With a baseline established there is no telling what might be possible.

Janet's mash with the whole multi-grains and 3 yeast boosters, seeds nuts and scald really made this bread taste fantastic.  If you were stranded on an island this is the bread you would want to take with you.  I thought the last batch was tasty but this puts it to shame. the aromatic seeds really put it over the top.  The crumb isn't as open as the last bake but this one is more glossy and it has way more whole grains that we love so much.  My apprentice finds it much more difficult to eat holes anyway.... and this bread is plenty airy enough as it is.


Starter Build

Build 1

Build 2



WWW & AP SD Starter





White Whole Wheat










Dark Rye










Yeast Water




















SD Starter Totals















Starter Hydration





Levain % of Total










Dough Flour





Red Malt










Vital Wheat Gluten





White Malt




















Total Dough Flour















Dough Soaker Water





Dough Hydration w/   Starter










Scald & Soak















Total Scald & Soak










Add - Ins





Sunflower, Pumpkin 20   ea










Barley Malt





Coriander, Black &   Brown Caraway





Anise 5, Fennel 5





Tang Zhong















Total Flour w/ Starter





Total Water w/ Starter










Hydration w/ Starter   & Adds





Total Weight





% Whole Grain










Tang Zhong not included   in hydration calculations includes


12.5 g each Spelt and Rye and 10 g Oat w/ 175 g of water



Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Today I was on a mission.  To defeat this fear of developing and shaping rye dough.  I learn best through video and photos and I have found that there are not nearly as many video tutorials for rye breads as there are for white breads.  I used a 40% formula and followed all that I have learned on this site as much as possible.  My last week's attempt came up short with little rise/oven spring.  This time, a combination of longer bulk ferment and proof times, along with an amazing organic medium rye flour from a local mill, produced loaves that I am finally happy with.  Not to mention Dumbo sized ears that I have never achieved before.  Flavour is lightly rye, with a definite sour tang.

Shaping was done in air with wet hands, and proofed in brotforms for almost 2 hours at 78 degrees.

Crumb shot a day later.  Any suggestions/comments on the crumb from the rye experts out there? 

JMonkey's picture

I bake bread about twice a week for my family, and these days, it's usually either a sourdough from 50% whole wheat, 10% rye and 40% AP or a loaf of Buttermilk and Honey Whole Wheat. But for whatever reason, I was craving rye yesterday, so I set up this loaf. No caraway, as I'd run out, though i do like it.

Here's how I made it:


  • Whole Rye: 40%
  • High-Gluten Flour: 60%
  • Water: 75%
  • Salt: 1.8%
  • All the rye is in the starter with a hydration of 100%


  • Whole rye starter, 100% hydration: 400g
  • High gluten flour: 300g
  • Water: 175g
  • Salt: 9g
  • Optional -- 9g of caraway seed

To make the bread, mix up all the ingredients and knead. It's sticky, so I like to let it sit for 10-15 minutes first, then I knead with wet hands for 3-5 minutes, let it sit again for 5 minutes, and do a final couple minutes of kneading. Let it rise for 2.5 to 3 hours, shape, and give it another 2.5 to 3 hours to finish. I baked mine in a cloche at 450, covered for 35 minutes, uncovered for 10.

For this morning's breakfast, Iris (my 9-year-old) desperately wanted bagels, so I said I'd make them, but I only had rye starter ready to go. Could be interesting, I thought. So I plowed ahead. They turned out well!


  • Whole Rye: 16%
  • High gluten flour: 84%
  • Water: 59%
  • Salt: 2%
  • Diastatic malt powder: 1%
  • All the rye was in the starter at 100% hydration


  • Rye Starter at 100% hydration: 285g
  • High gluten flour: 735g
  • Water: 375g
  • Salt: 18g
  • Diastatic malt powder

Here's how I made them. The night before, I mixed up all the ingredients until they were mostly hydrated, and then let them sit for 15-20 minutes. I then kneaded for about 5 minutes, let it sit for another 5 minutes, and gave it a final kneading of 2-3 minutes. I then cut the dough into 12 pieces of 110 - 120g each.

I pre-shaped each piece into a ball and then rolled them out into a snake, which I wrapped around my hand, sealing the ends together with the heel of my palm. They proofed overnight, covered, in my garage, which is unheated, but rarely gets below 45 degrees F.

The next morning, I brought a big pot of water to boil, to which I'd added a good handful of baking soda. Does it make a difference? Who knows? But I know I'm not messing around with food-grade lye, and baking soda is cheap. Why not? Anyway, it was apparently very cold last night. Usually, I boil them for a minute on each side, and they typically float after 30 seconds or so. These didn't float until 1:45 had passed! Anyway, I put them on a piece of parchment paper that I'd placed on my peel, and let them cool down a bit before brushing them with an egg wash (1 egg + a tsp or two of water, lightly beaten). I like the color it gives them, and it makes the toppings stick better. For toppings, I like garlic, onion, a salt & seed mix, and cheese. For the garlic and onion, I've found that what works best is to rehydrate dehydrated onion and garlic with hot water. Fresh just burns to a crisp in the oven. I add cheese halfway through the bake. Cheese on top of some garlic is particularly nice. I baked at 500 degrees F on a pre-heated baking stone for 10-12 minutes, turning once halfway through the bake.

Finally, my daughter and I have had a lot of fun with the pasta machine we got for Christmas from my parents. Last night, we made spinach and cheese raviolis, which were a ton of fun to make, and even more fun to eat.

I sauteed them in some brown butter after they boiled and then topped with grated parmesan. Just delicious. Here's Iris and me turning the scraps into noodles. They went into the freezer and will likely be added to a soup sometime soon.

Happy New Year, fellow bakers!

isand66's picture

There are many things in my life that I have a passion for, with bread  being near the top.  Recently I was very saddened to learn of the sudden passing of a terrific baker and person Eric Hanner.  Eric was a frequent contributor on The Fresh Loaf website and he inspired me with his passion for baking and touched a great many people along the way.

His willingness to share his vast baking experiences and cooking expertise as well photography pointers left an unforgettable mark on all that came in contact with him.  One of Eric's favorite recipes was his Jewish Rye which goes great with his homemade pastrami.  I had a spirited conversation with Eric regarding our pastrami passion and  I couldn't wait to try his pastrami after I had baked his famous rye.

In tribute to Eric I offer my own inspired Jewish Rye (I'm Jewish...therefore it's a Jewish Rye :0).  I have not used my yeast water starter in a while so I refreshed it with some oranges due to my apples having gone bad.  I also created a rye sour converting my AP starter in 3 stages including adding sautéed onions in stage 2.  Both starters were finished by bringing them from 100% hydration to 65% hydration.

I also picked up some interesting ale at the local supermarket which was brewed with lemon peels, ginger and honey so naturally I needed to use some in this rye bread.

The final loaf ended up being by far one of the best rye breads I have  made to date.  The onions combined with the 2 starters and the ale made this a wonderfully tasty moist bread perfect for a pastrami or corned beef sandwich or a smear of cream cheese.


Yeast Water Starter Build 1

60 grams Pumpernickel  Flour (KAF)

60 grams Yeast Water Starter

Mix the flour and Yeast Water in a bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for around 6 hours.  The starter should almost double when ready to proceed to build 2.

Build 2

Add ingredients below to starter from above and mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 6 hours.

100 grams Pumpernickel Flour

100 grams Yeast Water

Build 3

Add flour to starter from above and mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or until bubbly and either use immediately or put in the refrigerator for the next day.

100 grams Pumpernickel Flour

10 grams Yeast Water

(Note: I made extra starter since I wanted to use this for another bake.  You can cut the amounts down to make the 125 grams needed in the recipe)

Rye Sour Starter Build 1

63 grams AP Starter

63 Pumpernickel Starter

75 grams Water

Mix the flour, starter and water in a bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for around 4-6 hours.  The starter should almost double when ready to proceed to build 2.

Rye Sour Starter Build 2

100 Pumpernickel Flour

100 grams Water

123 grams Sautéed Onions (sautéed in olive oil)

Mix the flour and water with the sour starter from build 1 along with the onions.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours until doubled and nice and bubbly.

Rye Sour Starter Build 3

102 grams Pumpernickel Flour

Add the flour to the rye sour from build 2 and let it rest covered for 4-6 hours until bubbly and nearly doubled.

Main Dough Ingredients

300 grams Rye Starter from Above

125 grams Yeast Water Rye Starter from Above

400 grams First Clear Flour (KAF)

80 grams White Rye Flour (KAF)

50 grams Rye Chops (KAF)

30 grams Potato Flour (KAF)

357 grams Tenacious Traveler Shandy Ale

18 grams Seas Salt or Table Salt

8 grams Caraway Seeds

1 Large Egg (for egg wash only)


Build your Yeast Water levain and rye sour starter the day before you are ready to bake.

The evening before you want to bake, mix the flours, rye chops, caraway seeds and the ale.  Mix on low-speed in your stand mixer or by hand for about 1 minute until the ingredients are combined.  Let the dough autolyse for about 20 minutes to an hour.

Next add both levains along with the salt and mix for 4 minutes on low.  The dough will come together and be slightly sticky.  Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and do a couple of stretch and folds.  Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.  Do another stretch and fold in the bowl and let it rest another 10-15 minutes.  Do another stretch and fold and let the dough sit out in the covered bowl for another 1.5 hours.  Place the dough in the refrigerator until ready to bake the next day.

When ready to bake take the dough out and leave it covered in your bowl for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Next divide the dough into 2 loaves and either place in a banneton or from into batards and let them rest in floured couches for 1.5 - 2 hours.

About one hour before ready to bake, set your oven for 500 degrees F.and make sure you prepare it for steam.  I have a baking stone on the top shelf and the bottom and use a heavy-duty rimmed baking pan that I pour 1 cup of boiling water into right as I put the loaves into the oven.

Score the loaves as desired and brush each loaf with a simple egg wash using 1 whole egg and a couple of teaspoons of water.

When ready to bake place the loaves into your oven on  your oven stone with steam and lower the temperature immediately to 450 degrees.  It should take around 30 minutes to bake  until the rye breads  are golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 200 - 205 degrees F.

Let the loaves cool down for at least an 2 hours or so before eating as desired.


Song Of The Baker's picture

Chestnut Fig Stout Rye

December 9, 2012 - 7:37pm -- Song Of The Baker

Today's bake insired by dabrownman and hanseata.  Don't know what else to call this one but a Chestnut Fig Stout Rye.  My first time working with dark rye.  First time working with many ingredients for bread actually - beer, fennel, corriander, molasses, chestnuts.

It all turned out thanks to dabrownman's coaching when times got a little hairy.

Soaker and add ins - barley, cracked wheat, sunflower seeds and chestnuts

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


Got it right, at last!

Berliner Landbrot -

70% Dove's Farm light rye

30% Bacheldre Organic Stoneground Strong White Flour

During his apprenticeship the baker Tom Roetz investigated the behaviour of machine-prepared rye preferments vs hand-prepared rye preferments using  a standard "Berliner Landbrot" formula.

My version of "Berliner Landbrot" is adapted from his paper, which is available online:

I tried to bake this bread several times with mixed sucess. Now I managed to get it just right for my taste:

A fairly open crumb, combined with a dark, caramelised crust.

Here the formula:

Expected Yield1600 
Light/Medium Rye Flour (Type 1150)25232
Mature Starter (not in final dough)1093
Strong White (AP) Flour (Type 550)30278
Light/Medium Rye Flour (Type 1150)45417
Yeast (Instant)0.474.4


Mix the preferment and leave it for about 14 hours at 28C. It should have a pleasant smell and taste.

Mix the preferment with the rest of the ingredients, the dough is easy to handle as it ought to be onthe stiffer side.

Knead for about 5 minutes, the dough wil become a bit smoother.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes at 28C

Shape with wet hands.

Proof for another 45 minutes at 28C.

I used bannetons this time, but this can also be baked freestanding or in tins.

Bake in a very hot oven  (Roetz says 290C!) for 10 minutes, then at 200C for about 50 minutes (750g loaves).

Things to watch out for

Temperature: During the preparation of this dough I managed to keep the dough temperature constant on 28C. 

Shaping: I did it quite gently this time, just gently forming a smooth roll with very wet hands.

Baking: My oven was as hot as it can be, with a new 3cm stone, and about 2 hours preheating (I did another bake just before)

Roetz used in his studies two decks: one heated to 290C for the first 10 minutes of the bake, and another one at 200C to finish the bake. I think it is most important for this bread to behin the bake hot.

My challenge now: to get these results consistently.

Happy Baking,


Song Of The Baker's picture

My First Rye Bread Bake

November 25, 2012 - 1:20pm -- Song Of The Baker

I just baked my first rye bread.  After much anticipation and worry, I took the plunge, and thanks to the help from some of you in the last day, I have to say, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  Thanks to Mirko for the recipe.  This one is a Mischbrot rye.

I haven't cut into it yet as I hear with rye breads, one should let it cool for longer than other breads.  Very unfair.

Song Of The Baker's picture

Tutorials Needed on Shaping Rye Breads

November 24, 2012 - 4:10pm -- Song Of The Baker

I will be attempting my first rye bread tomorrow.  I have searched the internet, trying to find some video tutorials on making rye breads and found very little out there compared to sourdoughs, etc.  Tuorials helped me a great deal when trying sourdough, multi-grains, ciabatta breads for the first time.

Does anyone have any photos, videos that can help me in the shaping process of this particular type of rye bread?  Below is the recipe to give an idea of how wet/dry the dough I will be working with:

hanseata's picture

Long time no see - after I baked four breads from my Equal Opportunity Baking list that I wasn't 100% satisfied with, I got a bit burned out on them. The anal Virgo me didn't want to continue with yet another Fair Baking Bread without having tried to coax and tweak the grade C candidates to a better performance or more satisfying taste.

Slowly I revisited and rebaked (I learned to use the prefix "re" from the creators of our daily crossword puzzle - it is amazing how you can put a "re" in front of any given verb and come up with a new term never heard of before!) the soso breads, Arkatena Bread, Muesli Rolls (both fine now), Camembert Grape Bread, and then the Beer Rye.

I had picked Bill Middeke's contribution to Kim Ode's "Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club" because of the combination stout and rye. In my opinion nothing made with beer can be bad (unless, perhaps, it's made with Bud Light, aka dish wash water, or other beer abominations).

The amount of sweeteners, molasses and brown sugar (both 1/4 cup for two small loaves) seemed a lot, so I reduced them by half, to 1/8 cup each.

The recipe, originally been posted in the "St. Louis Globe-Democrat", had called for lard or bacon fat instead of the shortening listed in Kim Ode's book. As a German accustomed to cooking with lard, and no friend of shortening, I switched back to the original piggy fat.

For the active dry yeast I used instant, my default, and, also employed my preferred S & F, plus overnight cold fermentation, instead of making and baking the breads on the same day.

Everything worked well, only the baking time was a bit longer. The bread looked really pretty, but even with the reduced amounts of sugar and molasses it was still way too sweet for my taste!

Bill Middeke, an ardent bicyclist, surely needs sufficient carbohydrates to fuel him for his athletic rides, but my bike carries me mostly to the nearby supermarket, and I get plenty of extra carbs from chocolate and desserts.

Not only that, the best of all husbands complained about the caraway. While I like it, Richard doesn't care for the taste and always finds it overdosed.

So I had another go at the Beer Rye Bread, this time cutting sugar and molasses again by 50%, adding a little more water, to make up for the molasses reduction, and using only 1 teaspoon caraway instead of 1 tablespoon.

We were eager to try the new bread - the sweetness was just right, but with less sugar the bread was a bit bland, and clearly needed more salt. And my spouse, known to be a delicate little flower, found himself OD'd on caraway again....

Relentlessly adapted to the Andersons' preferences, this final version received the stamp of approval: a tasty bread, slightly sweet, with a hint of caraway, and full of the good stuff: black Ruthless Rye.



(2 small breads)

1 ½ cups stout, or other dark ale (350 g)

70 g water
34 g lard
9 g light brown sugar
21 g molasses
12 g salt
1 tbsp. orange zest, (ca. 8 g)
1 g caraway seeds, (1/2 tsp), or more, to taste
5 g instant yeast
325 g rye flour
320 g all-purpose flour

DAY 1:

In saucepan, heat beer and water until just starting to bubble. Add lard, sugar, molasses, salt, orange zest, and caraway seeds. Let cool to lukewarm (not more than 95 F.)

Stir yeast into beer mixture, until dissolved. Pour in mixer bowl, and add flour. Mix at low speed (or by hand) for 1 - 2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 6 minutes, adjusting with more water or flour, if necessary (dough should be soft and still sticky.)

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. Stretch and pat into square, fold top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter, then the same way from both sides. Gather dough into a ball, place seam side down into a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat this S & F 3 times, with 10 minute intervals, after last fold cover and refrigerate overnight. (I divide the dough at this point in halves, and refrigerate it in two containers.)

DAY 2:

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, it should have doubled.

Preheat oven to 350ºF, including steam pan. Shape dough into 2 boules or bâtards. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down, and score. Mist with water, sprinkle with rolled rye, cover, and let rise until doubled, ca. 45 - 60 minutes.

Bake breads for 25 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water. Rotate breads 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 25 - 30 minutes. ( temperature at least 195 F.)

Cool on wire rack.

As pretty as it gets - whether as boules or bâtards - here with rye flakes as topping


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